How to Create Truly Unique Oil Industry Awards (and Gifts)

Coming up with unique award and gift ideas for the oil industry can be a challenge. Many of the traditional concepts may seem tired and unlikely to have considerable perceived value. These include, for instance, the many variations of brass pump jacks that have been a common recognition staple in the industry seemingly forever.

Another concept that probably also comes to mind as tired and overdone—one you may already have dismissed—involves oil drops suspended in Lucite (acrylic).

After all, haven’t you seen plenty of oil drop vials placed in Lucite? Can’t you assume that the intended recipients of your award or gift will have as well? With that in mind, how much cachet could oil drop commemoratives like this really have?

But you may want to reconsider the oil drop idea.

Because there’s something that’s not commonly known that could vastly increase the perceived value for you (not to mention your recipients) of these awards and gifts.

Yes, It’s Possible to Use “Your” Oil in Lucite and Acrylic Embedments

One of the traditional drawbacks of these oil drop “embedments” is that they tend to make use the same jet-black inky liquid for the oil.

Add to that the fact that in most cases the liquid placed in these vials isn’t even oil.

And beyond that, almost all vendors tend to use the exact same liquid for all their “oil” vials—regardless of where and how the client’s actual product is produced.

So the same generic liquid is being used in most oil vial pieces. That virtually makes it impossible for recipients to receive anything distinctive, let alone unique.

What’s not commonly known–because so few companies offer the service–is that it’s entirely possible to use “your” oil in these custom awards and gifts.

Nothing is More Central to a Company’s Identity and Brand than its Product

Once again, you have the option of using your own oil in “oil drop’ pieces.

So you do not have to use the same inky mix that most vendors are holding out as oil.

You may not have known that this option was even available, but you undoubtedly don’t have to be told why it’s significant.

How, for instance, can you possibly commemorate “first oil” with some random liquid that’s first of all not “your” oil and, most likely, not even oil in the first place?

Oil Drum Commemorative with "First" Oil Vial

How can you commemorate “first” oil if the vendor insists on using vials of generic, lookalike black liquid? The option of using “your” oil exists—though many vendors either can’t or won’t offer it.


And what sense does it make to use some liquid that most of the recipients of your award or gift will immediately recognize as not being “your” oil.

That was the case with the piece below. Here the client wanted to showcase its own oil, in this case a very light sweet crude. Using all-purpose, generic black liquid would have been not only inappropriate, but to those many recipients familiar with the product, almost laughable.

Louisiana-Shaped Acrylic with Embedded Vial of Light Crude

This commemorative incorporates a vial of the client’s “own” oil—a light sweet crude. What sense would it make to use here the inky black “oil” that many vendors insist on using?


And if your goal is to showcase oil from different locations, as in the piece below, what’s the point if they all look the same?

Lucite Embedment with Vials of Provided Oil

A selection of vials showcasing samples of client’s own oil.


Using your own oil in an award or gift can transform what would otherwise be an interchangeable, off-the-shelf memento into something that truly reflects, and commemorates, the distinctive character of your product.

Two Other Overlooked Customization Techniques for Oil Industry Awards and Gifts

There are a couple of other instances where vendors tend to push one-size-fits-all approaches to oil industry awards and gifts.

Specifically, they tend to steer your toward design options that they can simply pull off a shelf.

This includes the pewter pieces that they offer—whether they be barrels, rigs, drilling platforms etc. They have certain stock pieces and, if your specific vessel or platform looks different, well your going to have to do something custom.

And kind of customization, you may already have heard, will take a lot of extra time.

And force you to incur steep set-up charges.

There are two options you might want to consider.

The first involves shaped crystal. Again, you may only have seen crystal pieces as part of a menu of stock pieces. You can usually only order designs such as oil flames, or  oil barrels, or oil drops in certain sizes and shapes.

Actually, the potential for customization in crystal is far greater—and again, not widely known.

The piece below, for instance, captures a good deal of specific detail.

Custom Oil Industry Commemorative

Crystal cut out demonstrating the type of detail and customization possible in crystal. Many vendors try to steer oil industry awards and designs to shapes and sizes that can be fulfilled off-the-shelf.


Another option in crystal involves an internal laser-etching technique more commonly known as 3D etching.

Here again, a good deal of specific detail can be captured through this technique, as shown in this side view of an oil industry crystal commemorative.

Oil Industry Commemorative with 3D Etching of Offshore Rig.

3D etching can capture a high degree of detail—making a truly customized rendering of , say, an oil rig or vessel truly possible. Too often vendors will push lookalike, off-the-shelf stock pewter or crystal pieces which don’t allow for this customization.


Custom Crystal with 3D-Etched Oil Drop

Even a theme as commonplace as the oil drop can be enlivened by the 3D etching in crystal technique.


The design of the piece below is much less involved; but it does capture how even an oil drop can be rendered dramatically through the 3D laser-etching process.

Chances are you may have seen any of the techniques mentioned above; but you may not have recognized–or have been told–how they can be used to enliven some of the standard, default award and gift offerings for the oil industry.

David Parry is the Director of Digital Strategy for The Corporate Presence and Prestige Custom Awards, a designer and provider of custom corporate awards, ranging from creative employee and client recognition awards to the NFL Commissioner’s Awards and ESPN’s ESPY.



Posted in: